The Montreal Canadiens’ young defencemen are showing they can be legit NHLers, putting general manager Kent Hughes in a prime position to take advantage of the NHL trade market.
On a recent episode of the Jeff Marek Show, the NHL insider spoke to the market for defencemen at the moment, and how all the talk has been around Jakob Chychrun so far, but that it would soon change.
Marek believes that, as we get further into the season, the discussion will soon shift toward the many potential second-pairing defencemen that will be available on the market come NHL trade deadline.
“You know what, David Savard is a great example. I’ll throw Ben Chiarot into that mix as well,” said Marek on the hot market for second-pairing defencemen. “Someone is getting a second-pairing defenseman. Everyone is going to be chasing a second-pairing D and it’s going to cost them a first-round pick.”
With the many injuries on defence, the Canadiens aren’t in a position to deal right now, but the crucial experience being gained by the youngsters on the backend is providing them with the necessary data they’ll need to make calculated decisions as the season roars on.
Youngsters Progressing Quicker Than Expected
Few could have expected that Kaiden Guhle, Jordan Harris and Arber Xhekaj would all start the season with the Montreal Canadiens, let alone be three of their best defenders through their first six games.
Guhle has also shown that not only can he handle an elevated number of minutes early in his professional hockey career, and that he has a certain untapped offensive potential that should be explored further throughout the season.
Scoring a goal in the NHL: 🙂
Scoring a first goal in the NHL: 😃
Scoring a GORGEOUS first goal in the NHL: 🥳
Have a night, Kaiden Guhle. 👏 pic.twitter.com/oRF0oiAd5b
— NHL (@NHL) October 28, 2022
Arber Xhekaj is quickly making a name for himself in the NHL, and not just because he can ragdoll NHL veterans with the same level of strain that most people show while unwrapping a popsicle on a hot summer day.
He gives Bell Centre fans a reason to cheer, and opposing fans a reason to jeer while also secretly wishing he would play for their favourite team. There are few better stories in the league at the moment than Xhekaj’s quick rise to NHL fame.
And then there’s the underrated Jordan Harris, who continues to look incredibly solid, without the flash and attention that Xhekaj or Guhle currently have. Consistently among the top for ice time and underlying numbers, Harris demonstrates great poise and calmness during games, despite only being 22 years of age.
Even Jonathan Kovacevic, who’s the senior of this quartret at 25-years-old, has looked particularly solid playing next to Harris since being acquired on waivers.
High Interest In Joel Edmundson
The most tradeable asset on the Montreal Canadiens’ blue line at the moment has to be Joel Edmundson, given how three of the four defencemen mentionned above are all left-handed.
It’s no secret that Edmundson is a hot commodity. Renaud Lavoie of TVA had previously reported that Edmundson has been of high interest on the NHL trade market dating back to the summer.
“I know there’s a lot of interest across the league for a defenceman like Edmundson,” Lavoie said on TVA Sports. “I don’t think he’ll be traded now, but I can tell you that there are some pretty attractive offers. They can continue to become even more attractive in the coming months.”
The chances are slim to none that the Montreal Canadiens will trade defenceman Edmundson before the 2023 NHL trade deadline. The 6-foot-5, 229-pound, 29-year-old rearguard is entering the third season of a four-year, $14 million contract that carries a $3.5M AAV. That being said, if the youngsters on the team continue to improve at their current pace, the Canadiens the temptation to optimize the value on Edmundson, similarly to that of Tyler Toffoli or Arturri Lehkonen, might be too hard to pass up.